July 26 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Camden’s finance chief has pledged the council’s new £123million headquarters - set to open to employees this week - will “transform the experience of Camden residents”.
"The amount of paperwork held by Camden Council will go down from 22km to 2.1km as we computerise many things"
On Friday, the first council employees are due to transfer to the authority’s new building at 5 Pancras Square, in King’s Cross, as part of an eight-week move due to be completed on August 24.
The new building, which has successfully met the completion deadline set when construction began in early 2012, offers a host of community facilities, in addition to office space for 2,400 staff.
This includes two swimming pools, a gym, a cafe, a public library and a customer access centre, all of which are due to open officially on July 19.
Last Wednesday, Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member for finance and technology policy, told the council’s cabinet: “These are lofty goals done in austere times but I truly believe that we are setting ourselves on a path where we can transform the experience of Camden residents.”
In 2012, the planned sale of eight ageing council office buildings had been projected to raise £85m towards the cost of the new HQ, with a £38m loan required to cover the full costs.
But at last week’s cabinet meeting, it was revealed the council had exceeded the projected sale receipts for its former offices - raising £138m in total.
This has allowed the council to pay off the £38m loan in full, leaving it with a £14m cash windfall.
Cllr Blackwell said bringing all the council’s employees under one roof and moving to a digital model would bring savings over time.
“The amount of paperwork held by Camden Council will go down from 22km to 2.1km as we computerise many things,” said Cllr Blackwell.
“That’s a bit of a paperclip shuffler’s achievement there, but I think that’s symbolic of the way the council will work.”
He added: “There is room for 2,400 employees but 1,500 desks so we will be moving much more to an open digital environment for staff common to many private sector organisations.
“I think we will be able to do business on behalf of Camden residents much better through this.”
Camden Conservative leader Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland, who attended the cabinet meeting, said it was “remarkable” that the building project had “unfolded as smoothly as it has”.
She said: “It would also be remiss of me not to mention that this has flowed through several administrations and I know that there are previous leaders from several parties who would be very pleased to be acknowledged for their role in that.”